Thursday, July 9, 2009

Spanish-surnamed Yankee Doodle Dandy not a legitimate American?

Ruben Navarrette Jr., member of the San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board and national syndicated columnist, wrote an insightful commentary for CNN entitled, "I'm a Spanish-surnamed Yankee Doodle Dandy."

Navarrette states that he was born in the U.S., as were his parents, 3 of his grandparents, and a "handful" of his great-grandparents.

Because Navarrette identifies himself as a Mexican-American, he has received comments such as, "Why don't you try being a real American" from his readers.

He notes that he has friends who, although they do not use hyphens, call themselves Irish, Jewish, Italian, or German.

Navarrette is very articulate in describing that he is an American because of what he believes, including loving freedom and democracy, and believing that with sacred rights come equally sacred responsibilities to self, family, community and country.

This compelling article was met, however, with some rather disturbing comments posted to the story by readers (which are unfortunately no longer available online). The comments immediately bypassed his description of being American, or anything else he said, and immediately went after the issue of illegal-immigration.

This was a very clear example of how in the minds of some there can be no discussion of Hispanic in the U.S. without it being connected to a discussion of illegal-immigration. It actually seemed that for those posting the comments, that although some of Mr. Navarrette's family has been in the U.S. for 4 generations, and Navarrette himself has a clear understanding of what it means to be an American, he is not not legitimate, simply because he identifies himself as a Mexican-American.

To read the CNN commentary, click here.

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